Two Tibetan Monks Set Themselves On Fire In China

Sep 26, 2011
Originally published on September 26, 2011 1:20 pm

Right after they waved the banned Tibetan flag and said "long live the Dalai Lama," two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese government's strict control of their religion.

The Free Tibet Campaign says that over the past six months, four monks have chosen self-immolation in Tibet.

"This shows not only the level of suffering and desperation of Tibetans but also the extreme actions they are willing to take to draw the world's attention to the situation in Tibet," they write.

Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok were both about 18 or 19, and Kalsang's brother died back in March after he set himself on fire.

The AP adds a bit of background:

Aba has been the scene of numerous protests over the past several years against the Chinese government. Most are led by monks who are fiercely loyal to Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is reviled by Beijing.

Also on Monday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that it has never been up to the Dalai Lama to pick his own successor and that Beijing will identify who is the next incarnation of the Tibetan spiritual leader.

China reviles the Dalai Lama as a separatist and wants to pick a pro-Beijing successor. The Dalai Lama insists he is only seeking increased autonomy for Tibet, not independence, and opposes Beijing's involvement in selecting its leaders.

In fact, this past Saturday, the Dalai Lama issued a statement on how the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama would be chosen. As Time explains it, the Dalai Lama said he would reveal the details when the 76-year-old turns 90.

What's clear, however, is that he does not believe his successor should be picked by the Chinese government.

"It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas," the Dalai Lama writes. "Such brazen meddling contradicts their own political ideology and reveals their double standards. Should this situation continue in the future, it will be impossible for Tibetans and those who follow the Tibetan Buddhist tradition to acknowledge or accept it."

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